My Aussie bucket list 

So we all have things we want to do, places we want to go, activities we want to try, and it stands to reason that along with a year spent in Australia is a bucket list of things  to do. This is my Aussie bucket list, it’s been added and subtracted to during the year and this is the final version. 

Visit Uluru 

Sunset at Uluru

So I ticked this one off my list within a month of arriving in Australia! Joining a 3 day tour I walked around Uluru and saw an amazing sunset and sunrise over the ‘red rock’. It lived up to expectations which I am so glad about, and is worth pride of place at the top of my list as such an iconic piece of Australian history. 

Dive the Great Barrier Reef 

Turtle spotting on the Great Barrier Reef


You think Australia and you think Great Barrier Reef so this was an obvious choice for my bucket list. After a learning to dive and gaining my open water I did indeed dive the GBR, several times in fact. It was awesome. The first time I saw a turtle is something I will never forget. 

Hold a koala

Okay so I finally achieved this on Magnetic Island but I can safely say it was not my most exciting experience with a koala, especially considering it pooed on me! 

Koala on the Forts Walk, Magnetic Island


Actually, seeing koalas in the wild beat holding a koala in a sanctuary ten times over. The Forts Walk on Maggie is a good place to see them and I also saw them in Victoria. Our campsite on the Great Ocean Road had a koala in a tree plus kangaroos hopping around, can you get any better. 

See a kangaroo

A Tassie roo


I’ve seen tons. At first it was exciting but you do become a bit immune to it after a while, especially when they become a road hazard! Saying that, it was of course amazing to see a roo. 

See a crocodile

Jumping Croc Cruise up in Darwin


Having never seen one in the wild this was on the list, in fact there quite a few Aussie animals on my bucket list! I went from never seeing one to seeing heaps. While in Darwin I ‘swam’ with a saltie in the cage of death as well as spotting them out in the rivers. In Palm Cove we got a croc warning as soon as we checked into the hostel. And throughout the Kimberley’s we saw lots of freshwater crocs sunbathing on the banks. 

Drive the Great Ocean Road

The Twelve Apostles


This is one of the most well known road trip routes in Australia and I can see why, forest walks and beautiful beaches, what more can you want. 

Road trip Tassie

Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake


This was a late addition to the list but if I’d known how great Tassie was before it would had been on the list from the start. Can’t recommend a visit to this state enough. 

Sail the Whitsundays 

Whitehaven Beach


A definite must when travelling the east coast. Had some great snorkelling here but unfortunately it rained while at Whitehaven Beach so I didn’t quite see how amazing it was. 

Drive a 4WD on Fraser Island

Driving on Fraser Island


So much fun. A sand island, driving is tricky and fun at the same time. The island also has beautiful swimming holes and beaches, so happy to tick this one off the list. 

Sleep in a swag under the stars

Sleeping in a swag in Pardoo


You haven’t camped until you’ve slept in a swag, it’s an experience. While potentially and often quite cold, waking up to see the stars overhead is unbeatable. 

Work abroad

Working on a farm


One of the main reasons I chose to come to Australia was to work here too. I found it quite tricky to get work, you have to be patient. However I did indeed find work and tried several different things, all fantastic experiences that bought me closer to the real Aussie life and not just the backpacker community. I wager I know more Victorian place names than many Victorians after one on my jobs! 

Live abroad 

Home


Rather than just travel I wanted to actually live somewhere and become part of a city. This happened in Melbourne and I can honestly say it was amazing and heart wrenching to leave when the time came. Living abroad is an amazing experience I’d recommend to anyone. 

Have a beach Christmas 

Christmas Day on Coogee Beach


It’s Australia, what else are you going to do. I therefore joined many other travellers to celebrate Christmas on Coogee Beach, Sydney. 

See Sydney’s NYE fireworks 

Happy New Year!

Having grown up always seeing these on telly this was a must. While we ended up staking out our spot from 8am it was a great day and the fireworks were amazing. 

Sample some Aussie wine in a winery

Exploring the Barossa Valley


Sometimes you just need to forgo the goon! Australia has some amazing wines and I ended up visiting not just one but 5 wine regions. 

See aboriginal rock art  

Kakadu rock art


I was keen to absorb some aboriginal culture and seeing rock art in Kakadu and the Kimberley’s was amazing. 

Sleep underground at Coober Pedy   

Unfortunately this one I failed to do. I skipped it as it was cold at the time of year I was considering it and then afterwards I discovered it’s a very hard/expensive place to get to unless you include it in a tour to Uluru. 

Visit the Daintree Rainforest 

Home to some unusual ice cream flavours


Where two natural world heritage sites meet, yes please! The beaches there were stunning, Rainforest one side and GBR the other, beautiful. Plus it has some amazing ice cream! 

Swim with whalesharks 

Swimming with whalesharks on Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth


Another later addition as I didn’t think I’d have time for the west coast. I am so glad I did, this was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Venture into the Kimberley’s 

Walking through the Bungle Bungles


This made the list while I was living in Darwin, I hadn’t really heard of it before. One of the last places I visited in Australia it was beautiful, the Bungle Bungles are unreal. Definitely go if you can. 

See something at the Sydney opera house

Watching a show in the Sydney Opera House


Managed to tick this off the list over Christmas with an amazing circus performance, perfect choice as I’m not a big opera fan. 

Meet a quokka 

Quokka on Rottnest Island


Who doesn’t want to get a selfi with these adorable creatures. Cycling round Rottnest Island you bump into them everywhere, just keep an eye on your food or it’ll disappear before your eyes.


That’s it folks 

21 out of 22 isn’t bad right. So that’s my Aussie bucket list, hope it inspires you to tick a few off for yourself. 

West Coast wandering 

Beautiful, expansive and dusty; the west coast of Australia is a totally different experience to the usual backpacker destination of the east coast. 

Rather than the well trodden, teeming with backpackers and goon that is the east coast, the west coast is quiet, natural and laid back. The hostels were quieter, the driving distances longer, the roads more dusty and the shops few and far between. It’s the perfect route to get a glimpse of how Australia was before it was inundated with travellers. 
How to travel the west?

This was my first dilemma. As with the east coast I wanted to take it slow, as after all, travelling slow is way better than travellig fast. However all the tours were about 20 days which is pretty fast. 

Lacking my own wheels I looked into public transport. The west coast has a similar bus to the greyhound called Integirty. However the timetable isn’t that flexible and it doesn’t stop at all the key sites.

So I was back to the tours. I decided to break the west coast up into 3 separate tours, spending extra time in Exmouth and Broome. This worked out pretty well for me. It made the route slower, ideal, and gave me a break between tours, perfect to relax after all the early starts and long drives involved in tours. Not to mention time to satisfy the craving for fruit and veg after all the bread and meat heavy tour menus! 

I chose to go with Aussie Wanderer from Perth to Exmouth and Exmouth to Broome, and then with Intrepid into the Kimberley’s. I can definitely recommend these tours! 

The route

Perth -> The Pinnacles -> Kalbarri National Park -> Shark Bay -> Monkey Mia -> Coral Bay -> Exmouth -> Karijini National Park -> Broome 

The Pinnacles

This is a popular day trip from Perth and while I’m glad I’ve seen it, it’s like being on an alien planet and was in fact used in Doctor Who, it was a little underwhelming and I’m not sure I’d pay the price of the day tours just to see it. 

Kalbarri National Park 

This is a beautiful place to explore. We did the Z bends walk, the river was gorgeous, and went to Nature’s Window, a natural rock formation that acts as a window out onto the gorge below. 

Shark Bay 

While predominately a place to stay to break up the long drive, while exploring this area we saw the oldest rocks I’ve ever seen and the most stunning sunset on Shell Beach. 


Monkey Mia

Dolphins, dolphins and dolphins. At this resort you they feed the dolphins. You can stand in the shallows of the water as the dolphins come up to the shore line, literally never been so close to a dolphin before. It does get extremely busy so don’t be afraid to rush to the front to get a good view. When it’s feeding time everyone has to stand on the beach so as not to confuse the dolphins, and they pick people from the crowd to feeed the dolphins. 


Top tip, if you orders a take away drink from the restaurant make sure you ave plenty of time as they are a bit slow on service! Lucky for my they made up with it by giving me extra marshmallows and biscuits with my hot chocolate! 
Coral Bay

Small beach town. This is the place to snorkel, see manta rays or swim with whale sharks. 

Exmouth

Or as I like to call it, emu central. They are literally everywhere, wandering down the side of the road, mooching around the resorts, exploring the bush land, you can’t go far without bumping into an emu. 


Exmouth is the place to see whalesharks. This is one of the best things I’ve ever done and a top highlight in my Aussie travels. It’s not cheap but there are a lot of tour operators to chose from. But definitely do it. I saw 4 whalesharks, a dugong, flying fish, heaps of turtles, a sea snake, and a pod of about 30 oceanic bottle nose dolphins. Lots of marine life. But of course the whalesharks were the star of the show, being able to swim alongside them is just mind blowing. 


Cape Ranges National Park is a short drive from Exmouth. The Ningaloo Reef lies just offshore, perfect for snorkelling which is exactly what we did at Turquoise Bay. 


I unexpectedly ended up with a week in Exmouth, probably slightly longer than necessary but still nice nonetheless. I spent a lot of time enjoying the warm weather by the pool now that we’d finally reached the good weather in Exmouth. I was also lucky to have unintentionally timed my stay to coincide with the annual whaleshark festival. While small, there were market stalls to browse, food trucks and a stage with a variety of acts to watch. Was great to while away a day and feel part of the local community. 


The Lighthouse is a popular place to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean. 

Karijini National Park 

We spent 2 nights here staying at the beautiful eco lodge. It was a tad cold at night but luckily the tents came with douvets and blankets! 


Karijini is all gorges. After sometimes steep and rocky descents we’d wander through gorges walking in creeks, scaling rocks and even sometimes doing a bit of rock climbing! We visited Joffre Gorge, Knox Gorge, Hancock Gorge and Handrail Pool. 




Broome

When you think of Broome you think of camels at sunset on Cable Beach right?! Cable Beach is beautiful and the sunsets over the ocean amazing. 



Broome itself is a town that is split. You’ve got Chinatown, the main town, and then Cable Beach which is full of resorts. Just bear that in mind when you pick your accommodation. 

Sun Down Pictures, the oldest outdoor picturehousew in the world, so of course I had to visit. It’s a great experience. It sits under the flight path so you get the occaional plane flying overhead but it doesn’t ruin the movie. Take mossie spray and a jumper though.


Again, I was lucky to have times my visit totBroome with the full moon which I didn’t realise until I arrived is the time a naturally occurring phenomenon called the stairway to the moon. As the full moon rises the reflection across the mud flats makes it look like a stairway to the moon, hence the name. There’s a cute little market at Town Beach during the stairway, perfect tog et a spot of dinner while you wait. I can recommend the nachos! 


I’d I’d had more time or money I’d like to have visited the dinosaur footprints (unluckily for me the low tide times weren’t a right) and do the horizontal falls (nearly $1000!). 
What to take?

We did a lot of camping so a head torch is a must. 

Dive/swimming shoes are perfect for Karijini as you’ll be getting wet feet. 

Snacks/ alcohol as the shops are expensive on the way up, mostly IGAs. 

A good book and some tunes to while away the long drives. 

4 days in the Kimberley’s 

The Kimberley’s were not on my original Aussie bucket list but after living in Darwin for a bit they soon made it onto the list. I’ve finally just got around to visiting there and can report back that it is an amazing area of Australia and well worth the visit.

It’s a bit of a mission to get to, especially if you don’t have your own transport. I therefore chose to do a  tour, take away the hassle of the long drives and get an expert who knows all the history and where to go. I went with Kimberley Wild and it was a fantastic tour. 

Our transportation for the tour, very handy on the dirt roads and water crossings


Gieke Gauge

Our first day was predominantly driving from Broom to Fitzroy Crossing, about half a day’s worth of travel. But in the afternoon we joined a boat tour of Geike Gauge. A tad touristy, it was nonetheless fascinating to see this ancient Gorge and spot a few freshwater crocs. This gorge is part of the Devonian Reef, thing Great Barrier Reef but out of the water! It’s older than the dinosaurs and if you look closely you can spot fossils. 

Geike Gorge at sunset


Boab Tree

These are everywhere and came to represent the Kimberley’s to me. Such an unusual tree and the first time I’ve seen it in Australia. As you drive around the Kimberley’s you’ll see heaps, from small to very very big! 

An extremely large boab tree

Bungle Bungles

For me, the Bungle Bungles were the main reason to visit the Kimberley’s. After another long drive from Fitzroy Crossing to Punulu National Park, with a quick stop in Halls Creek (had real coffee! You’d only understand how amazing this is if you’ve travelled up the west coast and encountered instant coffee after instant coffee 😂), we made it to our private camp site. Be prepared for a back massage on the drive in, it’s a tad bumpy! 


The camp site was amazing. Comfy tents, decent showers and an astounding view! 

The next day was spent exploring this beautiful national park. The first stop was in the south where we did the Picannary Gorge lookout walk, Cathedral Gorge and the Domes Walk. You get so close to the amazing natural phenomena that is the bungle bungles, it’s astounding. 

The ‘beehives’


Cathedral Gorge


After seeing some of the domes up close I decided to splash out on the helicopter ride over the bungle bungles. It’s not cheap but totally worth it, the views were amazing! 


In the afternoon we headed to the north of the park to Echidna Chasm. This area felt very different to the south, it even has palm trees, felt a bit like something out of Indiana Jones! 

Echidna Chasm


After a final night in our lovely campsite it was back on the road to Fitzroy Crossing ready for our final day of exploration the next day. 

Mimbi Caves 

On predominantly a driving day this was  suprise stop for the day and it was a great suprise. We were joined by Ronnie, our local indigenous tour guide who showed us through Mimbi Caves, another part of the Devonian Reef. There’s a dreamtime story of the blue lizard that goes with the Caves and you can see aboriginal rock art on the walls. Fascinating to see it from an indigenous viewpoint. 

Mimbi Cave

Windjana Gorge 

Due to a big wet season there was a fair amount of water in the Gorge but this only served to make it exceedingly pretty and the home to a lot of freshwater crocs. This Gorge was beautiful, you can spot fossils in the Devonian Reef and just enjoy the natural beauty and ancientness of the place.

Windjana Gorge


Fossil in the Gorge walls


Freshwater crocs sunning themselves on the bank


Tunnel Creek

This is an amazing cave system that is devoid of all the lights and signs you so often find in caves these days. We were lucky as the national park had only reopened the week before after the wet season. Be warned, you’re going to get your feet wet! It’s very dark inside so you follow the illumination of your head torch across rocks, sand and water. But every now and again you find natural light at open fissures and it’s so beautiful. 

Tunnel Creek


While crossing one sand bar our guide pointed out croc tracks. We could see he’d gone from one patch of water to another. A bit further up our torch light caught a red eye glinting in the water, we’d found the culprit- so cool! 

After that it was a long drive back to Broom and the end of my Kimberley adventure. I’m so glad I found time and money to fit it in, it’s so worth the trip. 

Ever wondered if it’s worth going to Tasmania? This is why I’d say a big fat YES

So we all have plans when we start to travel, some more vague than others granted. I was just the same. I’d read the guidebook, I’d looked at blog posts, talked to travel agents and figured out the usual Australian gap year route. So I came to Australia wanting to hit up the two big cities, Sydney and Melbourne, get a bit of culture at Uluru and of course, travel the well trodden East Coast.

As with all good travel plans this soon changed. I met fellow travellers who raved about Tassie (Tasmania!) and worked with someone up in Darwin who was from there. I was soon enamoured with the idea of going there. 

After a couple of false attempts, I nearly went in February but ended up finding a job instead, I finally made it to Tassie in April. I am so so glad I did as it was amazing, and there is just so much there to see. 

My first decision was how to get there, you can fly from Melbourne super cheaply or get the ferry, which actually is rather expensive unless you want to take your car over. As I have no car it was a fairly easy decision for me- flying it is.

Next up was how am I going to get around Tassie. It’s smaller than the mainland Australia but it is not small, it’s about the size of Ireland. A couple of friends had done tours around the island. There are two main tour companies and they both looked good. I had mixed reviews from my friends about the tours though and as with all tours they weren’t cheap. On top of that my friend from Darwin had given me some tips on where to go and there were some things that the tours just didn’t do that I fancied doing. So in the end my solution was to hire a car. 

This is my 10 day road trip around Tassie:- 

Day 1: Arrive in Hobart 

So I arrive pretty early (cheaper flight) and pick up the hire car at the airport. I can’t check in till the afternoon so I head up to Mount Wellington for the famous view over Hobart. I get to the top and it’s super windy but you really can’t argue that the view isn’t worth it! 

View of Hobart from Mt Wellington


Next up I still have some time to kill so I decide to head over to Richmond which is planned to do the following day. It’s only about 20mins/ half an hour from the city so very close. Richmond is an old town which is great for browsing antique shops and cafes, but mainly to see the oldest bridge in Australia. 

Richmond bridge


The rest of the day was checking into the hostel, The Pickled Frog (a very good place to stay), catching up on sleep after an early flight and finding the supermarket. 
Day 2: Tasman Peninsular 

 About a 3 hour drive from Hobart is the Tasman Peninsular, home to some stunning scenery and Tassie’s convict history. 

My first stop was at the Tessalated Pavement, at the neck of the Peninsular,an intriguing naturally formed rock formation. By this time coffee was also in order and there was a cute little trailer serving coffee with a view over the Peninsular…perfect! 

Tessalsted Pavement


After a stop at the Tasman Arch and Eagles Neck, coastline features, it was a stop at the Unzoo to see a Tasmanian devil, I mean how could I not! 

Tasmanian Devil


It was then on to one of the most popular day trip destinations from Hobart, Port Arthur. This was the convict settlement and is a fascinating place to wander and learn more about the history there. Included is a boat tour which goes out around the bay with good views looking back at the settlement and takes you past the boys prison and the isle of the dead.

Port Arthur


Port Arthur is sort of in the middle of a drive loop in the Peninsular. I decided to drive back along the road I hadn’t been on yet and had an enjoyable scenic drive back to Hobart.


Day 3: hitting the east coast

I’d decided to stay the night before in Hobart as there was more, and cheaper, accommodation choice. But today I was heading out of the city to the east coast to do the famous Wineglass Bay hike. I drove up to Frecyinet NP (I bought a holiday pass for all the national parks in Tassie which worked out cheaper than paying individually), parked up and began the walk up to the Wineglass Bay Lookout. It’s a bit of an uphill climb but the view is amazing. Shame about the sad whaling past of the bay. I then chose to head down to the beach which was good to do, but a hell of a lot of steps! 

Wineglass Bay


This is pretty much a full day’s worth of activity and my next drive was just a short one to Bicheno, a small coast town, where I stayed the night, luckily getting in just before the rain hit.
Day 4: Bay of Fires

While staying in the Bicheno hostel I discovered I was very close to the Douglas Apsley NP so I decided to head there on the way. Unfortunately it was raining so I did a short walk and didn’t go for a swim but I’d say it’s still worth a stop here.

Douglas Apsley NP


It was the on up the coast, destination being the Bay Of Fires. I’d originally planned to beach hop up the coast as there are many beautiful beaches, but the rain soon put paid to that idea. I therefore ended up at the Bay of Fires, so named for the orange colour of the rocks, a little earlier than planned. 

Bay of Fires


As with Hobart, I’d decided to base my in Launceston for a number of nights while I explored the area as there was more and cheaper accommodation. With time on my hands I decided to swing by Evansdale on the way to Launceston. This is a cute old town with shops to browse and Georgian buildings. A stop in the bakery for food is a must.

A late lunch in the bakery


Day 5: Tamar Valley

After arriving into Launceston the day before and making a couple of calls, I found myself on an afternoon wine tour of the Tamar Valley, a wine region very close to the town. Have to say the wine in the area was some of the best I had tasted. I ended up on a small tour with 5 people and as you can probably guess, wine tours with small numbers are always the best! It was a good mix of bigger wineries and small boutique ones. However you do it, I’d recommend visiting the Tamar Valley.

Autumn vines in the Tamar Valley



Day 6: Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake


Another day trip from Launceston was Cradle Mountain NP. A beautiful dive away is this famous hike. On the day I chose it was freezing! The shuttle bus dropped us off at the start of the Dove Lake walk and the mountain was just about visible but the cloud was descending fast. I did the circular walk around Dove Lake which was beautiful, the walking warmed me up. The whole time it was like hide and seek with the Mountain but luckily by the time I reached the end I had the glorious view above of the mountain- phew! 

Boat house on the Dove Lake walk


On the drive back to Launceston I stopped at the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe, a menu completely raspberry themed. The complimentary dark choc coated raspberry was to die for. 

I ask swung into town via Cataract Gorge, the main thing to see in Launceston. However, having just done Cradle Mountain I wasn’t overly impressed. I’m sure if the weather was warmer it is a nice place to chill out though. 
Day 7: down the middle 

While in Launceston a fellow hostel stayed made me aware that in recent years Tassie has got a reputation for its whisky. The drive down the middle back to Hobart is not very inspiring but it did take me near Redlands Whisky Distillery, a perfect stop to sample a tipple. 


Rather than drive straight into Hobart I detours off to Mount Field NP. Known for its Russell Falls there are several other waterfalls there. I chose to do the 2/3 hour loop and after Russell Falls barely saw anyone else on the trail, it was a perfect walk. Slightly knackered afterwards it was just a short drive into Hobart and Battery Point where I was staying (Montacutr Bunkhouse, upmarket hostel type accommodation).

Russell Falls

Day 8: MONA 

You can get the ferry to Mona but as I still had the car I drove. It’s got a bit of a controversial name but I found the art gallery a tad small and got round it pretty quick. It’s worth seeing though.

Mona


As I had extra time after a shorter than planned Mona visit I decided to take a drive down the Huon Valley, known for its local produce and cider. It’s a pretty pleasant drive. I didn’t drive too far as I had to drop the hire car back in the afternoon. 

Huon Valley


I discovered the hire car drop off in the city was pretty close to a cat cafe. I’ve always fancied going to one so I decided to pop in. Most of the cats were asleep but it was a nice experience and the coffee was good!
Day 9: Salamanca 

Being a Saturday I of course went to the famous Salamanca Markets. There were lots of stalls with local produce, arts and crafts and food stalls. It’s a great market to go to. 

Salamanca market


I ask had a pretty good brunch at the the Machine Cafe in Salamanca. 


Day 10: Hobart and home 

On my last day in Tassie I just chilled in Hobart, browsing the shops, visiting the museum and waiting for my flight home. Hobart is a lovely city and definitely worth some time in. 

So that was my Tassie road trip, Hobart to Hobart. I didn’t have enough time to head west and I’d definitely go back, it was a fantastic trip and a lovely state to visit. It’s all about nature, history and local produce- perfect! 

What to do in Perth

So obviously I did a little research before I arrived and chatted to my travel friends who’d already been there, but actually I received a lot of great tips from some lovely locals. So this is my list of some planned and some suprise things to see and do in Perth that I’d definitely recommend. 

Planned: Meet a quokka

This was absolutely at the top of my list, and it’s become all the rage to get a quokka selfi amongst the backpacking community. 

Tuesdays are cheaper so come Tuesday I was up early, on a train to Freo to catch the ferry to Rottnest Island, home of the quokkas. It’s a pretty quick ferry and as I’d booked bike hire as soon as I got off the ferry I was handed a bike and I was on my way. 


Don’t be deceived, the island is quite large so there is a lot of cycling involved! On the bright side, quokkas are everywhere and they are as cute as they look in the pictures. Only thing is, they are sneaky food their way so make sure you guard your snacks well! 

 
There’s a heap of lovely beaches but it was a tad cold to brave the water for a snorkel. 

Near the jetty is a bunch of shops and eateries so you can get some snacks, it is expensive though so I was glad I bought my own good. 

Spent pretty much the whole day there getting the penultimate ferry home, it was a great day, although I had sore legs the next day.

Surprise: eating in Leederville

This suburb was not on my radar but was a place I went to several times during my stay. It has a variety of food options but the best place is Greens & Co, open late serving coffee and cake with comfy sofas to relax in. Has a great atmosphere and the cake is so tempting I went back twice. 



Planned: visit Kings Park

This is a massive park home to bush land (bit of a surprise to stumble across that bit) and the Botanical gardens. It’s a lovely place to walk, sit and read or meet friends. It also has awesome views of the city. 



Planned: visit the Perth Mint

Located in a beautiful Georgian building, this is an interesting place to visit to learn more about minting in WA. I was lucky enough to get a free tour which made it all the better! 



Suprise: Lake Monger 

I didn’t know this existed before I arrived but I ended up staying nearby. Needless to say when the sun came out I decided to take a walk around the lake. It’s beautiful and obviously a popular running track! 

Planned: Cottesloe Beach 

I’d heard Perth was know for its beautiful beaches and this one was the most mentioned. As soon as the weather looked semi decent I was off to the beach. 

Cottesloe is only a short train ride for the CBD so pretty easy to get to. 

First was a recommended stop at Il Lido for coffee from a Perthite I met in Tassie. The coffee lived up to their recommendation and was a great start to the day. 

The water was again a tad cold but it looked like a lovely safe swimming area. I took up residence on the beach and was grateful for the beach huts that provided a bit of shade. Was a lovely way to spend a day.



Planned: Visit Fremantle

Another train ride away lies Fremantle, or Freo as the locals call it.

Full of old architecture this is a great place to wander around. I didn’t go on market day so wasn’t completey sold on how great Freo is meant to be, but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Fremantle Prison. Convict built and in use to fairly recently, the prison is accessible by a fascinating tour. You can do different tours but the basic $20 was brilliant and gave a great history of the place.


My other tip for Freo for coffee lovers is to go to Blink, has great coffee! 

Suprise: Penguin Island

A tour with Rockingham Wild Encounters took me on a boat cruise to see sea lions and then dropped us off at Penguin Island to see the Little Penguin. It’s a small island but is worth the visit to see the penguins so close! I missed feeding time but even so I got to see the penguins pretty active and close. If the weather was warmer you could definitely spend the day and snorkel in the water and chill on the beach, but it was a tad cold for my visit. 

Suprise: Swan Valley wine tour

So as I’m discovering, Australia has way more wine regions that I thought!  The Swan Valley is about half an hour from the CBD and has some lovely wineries. We had a stop in Guildford which is a National Trust listed town, and then it was on to sample the fine wines of the region as well as the chocolate at the Margaret River Chocolate Company and a stop at the Providore – yum! 

Suprise: South Perth  

One day I caught the ferry over to South Peth. It’s nice to walk along the Esplanade and there is a great view looking back over the city, but otherwise there isn’t a whole lot there. 


I did go back to South Perth later with someone who knew the area better and can say there are some hidden gems there. Mainly in the cafe department, there are some fantastic brunch options there! 
Suprise: Hillarys Boat Harbour

A train and bus ride away from the CBD this place is still reachable pretty easily. It’s a nice place to while away a few hours with lots of restaurants, some boutique shops, places to sit in the sun and an aquarium to keep you occupied. 


Planned: Elizabeth Quay

Nice to see but not a whole lot there. Free wifi and a good view is the main draw! 

So that’s it. Perth isn’t massive so I’d say a week there is fine. However, it is a lovely city to be in, especially with the warmer weather it seems to attract. You can definitely spend longer there too and there is heaps more to explore south of Perth if you have the transport! All in all, I’m looking forward to heading back there before I leave Australia. 

2 days in Adelaide 

So I heard many mixed reviews on Adelaide but I figured I’m only here once so I might as well go! Have to say, although it is small, Adelaide is worth a visit. 

Having heard there wasn’t much here I chose to stay for 2 days which did mean I had to be selective about what I wanted to do. As I arrived in May it is a tad cold so I decided to rule out Kangaroo Island, but I’ve heard it’s got good walks and wildlife if you can spend a couple of days there. 

Anyway, here is what I actually did:-

Day one: Wine Tour 

Wine anyone


Day one was all about wine. Adelaide is surrounded by great wine regions. I picked the Barossa Valley to visit and spent the day in a tour with Taste the Barossa, which was brilliant. We stopped at 4 cellar doors and tried some amazing wine. The Barossa is know for its Shiraz so a fair number of these were imbibed! Highlights for me were the sparkling Shiraz (never even heard of this before), the tawneys (sunshine in a glass!) and the reisling from the Clare Valley. 

Even got to see wine in the making, really interesting


Day two: exploring the city 


After heading out of the city on day one, day two was left to explore what the city itself has to offer. Started the morning with a trip to the Central Market, perfect to pick up some fresh food.

Botanical Gardens


Next up was a walk to the Botanical Gardens, through Rundle Mall, the main shopping part of the city. The gardens are beautiful and with the sun out it was easy to while away a couple of hours here. 

Only remaining British colonial ecological museum




After the gardens it was a quick stop at Haighs Chocolate Factory on Greenhill Road. They run free 20 min tours (book in advance) and the smell is just heavenly. This is their only factory and it’s fascinating seeing how they produce the chocolate for SA, Vic and NSW. A lot of it is still hand done too! 

Under the jetty


I couldn’t leave Adelaide without visiting one of its beaches, especially as the sun was out. I chose Glenelg Beach to visit. Was nice to wander along the beach and there’s plenty of shops and eateries to while away some time on Jetty Road. 

Glenelg beach and jetty


Then it was back on the tram to the city and hostel. 

I stayed at Adelaide Central YHA which is, as the name implies, well located. It’s got great facilities and a friendly vibe with lots of planned activities. 

So that was my whistle stop tour of Adelaide, summed up by two words; wine and chocolate!

Melbourne is a foodie’s heaven 

Melbourne is a foodie’s heaven. There is so much choice, character and, of course, coffee. Here are some my favourite places that I frequented during my time living in Melbourne. 


Seven Seeds, Carlton 


Possibly the best coffee I had in Melbourne which is why I’ve listed it first. The brunch looked amazing and there was definitely a queue to suggest so when I swung by.


Auction Rooms, North Melbourne 


Home to a good brunch and good coffee. 


Market Lane Coffee, Carlton 


Another amazing coffee place, with such cute take away cups. There are several branches but the one in Carlton on Faraday Street is next to an awesome bakery 🙂 


The Gin Palace, CBD

If you like gin you need to go here, trust me. It’s not cheap mind. 


Top Paddock, Richmond 


Located on Church Steet this cafe has a real hipster vibe and does an awesome brunch, you can even push the boat out and treat yourself to a brunch cocktail! 
The Journal Cafe, CBD

 

Located on Flinders Lane next to City Library this is a great cafe to come and work in with the option of coffee or wine, depending on how your day is rolling. 


Brother Baba Budan, CBD


Great coffee and popular with Melbournians- expect to queue! 
The Croft Institiue, CBD 


One of Melbourne’s many laneway bars. Looks like you’re heading down a dead end but then you find the doorway to this beauty. Medically themed you can get a cocktail with syringes! 
Berlin Bar, CBD

Another quirky themed bar, you head inside to find half the bar is West Berlin themed and half is East Berlin, take your pick. 
Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar, CBD


A great Italian coffee place.  
Naked for Satan, Fitzroy


Great bar on Brunswick Street with an amazing roof top view plus good value pintox (posh nibbles!). 
Duchess of Spotswood, Spotswood


Brilliant coffee and although I never ate here the food looks absolutely amazing. 
Patricia Coffee Brewers, CBD 


Walked past this place 3 times before I found it but I knew it would be good Coffee given the queue out the door! Luckily it didn’t disappoint. 
Madam Brussels, CBD

One of Melbourne’s array of amazing rooftop bars. This one has an English garden party theme and is lovely on a sunny day. 
Dear Abbey Cafe, Moonee Ponds


There are some real gems outside of the CBD. This cafe in a converted church is one of them with not only a very pretty looking brunch served up but also a tasty one. The menu is really good offering slightly quirky brunches as well as the good old staples. 
Wide Open Road, Brunswick


Amazing coffee and a chilled vibe making it a great place to take your latopn or journal and spend an hour or two. Plus they have awesome take away cups! 
Code Black, Brunswick 


Not to far from Wide Open Road is another fan coffee place with a great outdoor area for those sunny days. You can even buy the coffee to take home. Spoilt for choice in Brunswick. 
Ponyfish Island, South Bank

A great little bar at the bas of a bridge on the river Yarra. Perfect for an after work tipple or just to watch the world go by. 
Touchwood, Richmond


Hipster vibe makes for a great place to sit in and the coffee’s not to shabby either. 
Rowena Corner Store, Richmond


Amazing milkshakes, enough said! 
There really are a lot of places to choose from and there’s probably heaps I don’t know about but hopefully if you’re heading to Melbourne this is a good starting point. Or if you’re simply interested in what I’ve been up to in Melbourne, this probably gives you a decent idea! 

Great Ocean Roadtripping

Arguably one of the most popular trips from Melbourne is to drive the Great Ocean Road, so of course this was on my list while I am here.

I chose to travel with friends, although there are also plenty of tours. Either way, I’d definitely recommend giving the GOR more than a day as there’s a heap of driving involved. 

We left Friday afternoon to avoid the peak hour traffic and just managed to slip out of the city in time. Our first stop was Bells Beach, the perfect balm after a week at work.

Bells Beach


Our next discovery was a pleasent surprise but one you’d only appreciate if you ever watched the kids tv show, Around the Twist!

Split Point lighthouse aka Around the Twist home


It was then a temporary goodbye to the coast as we headed into the Otways forest national park to our campsite for the night. In the middle of the forest, it was quiet and tranquil, and home to a mother and her joey and a koala- not too shabby for a campsite! 


After a small mishap with our camp stove (morale of the story, don’t lend your camp stove to strangers) we decided to head into Lorne for bunch. Lorne is a lovely town, and surprisingly not too expensive. Does get busy though as it’s one of the larger towns on the GOR. 

Brunch


After brekkie it was a drive through the Otways. First stop was Erskine Falls, a reminder it’s worthwhile heading in land on the GOR as well as hitting the beaches. 

Erskine Falls


After a few other stops in the Otways, including a lunch stop in Forrest (worth a stop if you head that way as it has a great brewery and knickknack store) we found our home for the second night on the road, Joanna’s Beach. 

A big surfing beach but also pretty quiet and had a corker of a sunset. After dinner we were back on the beach to watch the stars. It was simply stunning watching the Milky Way and shooting stars.

Sunset on Joanna’s beach


Sunday saw us heading back onto the GOR and stopping at the famous Twelve Apostles.

Twelve Apostles


 Shortly followed by Lord Ard Gorge, a beautiful beach to chill on, if a little wavy. 

Lord Ard Gorge


This was our final main stop before a long ish drive back to the city and a shower! 

Escape the city; top trips from Melbourne 

Melbourne is an amazing city to live in but there is so much more to see nearby, plus as much as I love the city, it’s nice to get out of it once in a while. 

Since starting my new job, finally a Monday to Friday 9-5 one, I’ve been making the most of the weekends and the extremely mild autumn to get out of the city and see more of Victoria. 

Dandenong Ranges 

Just an hour’s drive out of the city to the east lie the Dandenong Ranges, rainforest country. This area is beautiful and actually reminded me very much of the Peak District back home. It’s full of walking tracks, long and short so great for all levels of fitness, and small towns with craft and antique shops, tea rooms and cafes. Really is a perfect relaxing weekend getaway. 

Sherbrooke Falls walk


There are also some amazing viewpoints of the surrounding area. Unfortunately it was a tad cloudy when I went up Mt Skyhigh but you could still make out the CBD high rises. 

A rather cloudy view from Mt Skyhigh


The towns are very small but they are not short of place to eat. Don’t expect budget though, there is a touristy feel to the area and this is seen in the prices. 

One of my faveourite stops was Miss Marples Tearoom in Sasfras. It’s full of Miss Marple pictures and is set up like an English tea room, complete with mock Tudor exterior! Shame the scones were square tho! 

Miss Marples Tearoom in Sasfras


Another stop was at William Ricketts Sanctuary. This is a rather interesting garden walk full of ceramic aboriginal sculptures made by the late William Ricketts. He was very in touch with nature and aboriginal culture and this comes through in his artwork. It’s worth a visit just to see it! 

Sculpture in William Ricketts Sanctuary


Mornington Peninsular

Another popular place for Meburnians to go to is down to the Mornington Peninsular, only 1.5 hours drive away. 

I headed down to Sorrento and then headed back up the coast into the city, stopping at some beautiful beaches on the way. The beaches here are much nicer than those in the city itself and you can swim in the clear waters without being buffated by waves. It really is a great place for a beach day! 

No one else in the beach!


Wilsons Promontory NP

A bit of a longer drive (and you definitely need a car) from the city at 3.5 hours is Wilsons Prom. This is a massive national park full of great hikes, camping and beautiful beaches. 

If you don’t want to camp, or don’t have the camping gear like me, there are plenty of places to stay just outside the NP. I stayed in Foster, one of the smallest towns I’ve been in while in Australia. Word to the wise, take food with you as there isn’t much choice when you get there! 

First stop was Squeaky Beach so named because the sand squeaks when you walk on it! This beach was lovely and not even that busy which made it even better. 

The beauty that is Squeaky Beach


Tidal River is the main point of civilisation in the National Park as its the main campsite, has a takeaway and general store. This is a good call in point just for that reason but it’s also a short walk from there to Norman Beach and you can get the free courtesy shuttle to the start of the Mt Oberon track which takes you up to an amazing vantage point looking over the NP. The walk is about an hour each way.

What a view from Mt Oberon


Many people left early Sunday to get home for the start of a new week but I was lucky enough to be able to stay a bit later. This is definitely worth doing as you get views like the one below where you literally don’t see another person for miles! 

Not a soul in sight

So that’s it for now. This weekend I’m off to the Great Ocean Road, another popular trip from Melbourne, so I’ll report back on that soon. 

It’s city life for me 

So I’ve been in Melbourne a month already and I can truly say I absolutely love it here. It is after all the most liveable city in the 🌎!! 

Here are me top 5 reasons why I’d recommend coming to Melbourne:- 

The Coffee

Market Lane Coffee, possibly the best takeaway cups I’ve seen and the contents was pretty good too!


Okay so not everyone loves coffee but for those who know me I am a big coffee fan. I can honestly say I think I’ve been ruined for life. Melbournians take their coffee seriosuly and the result is so many fantastic coffee places. The list is endless and I am still working my way around them, never going back to the same place twice just so I can go somewhere new. They all roast their own beans and produce some amazing coffee. Seriosuly, once you’ve had coffee here you’ll be wondering why you’ve never been here before sooner! 

Of course you can’t mention coffee without talking about brunch. Melbourne takes brunch as seriosuly as it’s coffee. It’s basically a Melbourne institution, and you can see why when you devour eggs benedict with avocado smash and feta, or another delicious delight. 

Brunch!

The Culture 

Melbourne is a city with real character and buzz, with a lot going on. There is something on every week, and a lot of free events so you can always find something to do in your budget. I recently went to the Chinese New Year Festival on Southbank which was full of decorations, food trucks and performances by the Yarra. 

Happy Chinese New Year


Melbourne is full of culture in many other ways too. Street art is a big one. There are alleyways and laneways where artists have been given permission to paint and they are amazing, and always changing, which means you can keep going back and it never gets boring. There are street art waking tours or you can do a self guided tour. The most popular Lane is Hosier Lane which is where I found this minion. 

Minion on Hosier Lane


There are lots of suburbs in Melbourne but they are all so different. Carlton is basically mini Italy for example, and Fitzroy is full of cafes and bars. They are worth spending time to explore and I’m definitely looking forward to wandering around a bit more. 

There is also a lot of history in Melbourne and this is obvious in the architecture of the city. The skyline is a mix of old and new which adds depth to the city. 


The Ned Kelly story is big here too and it’s worth visiting the Melbourne Gaol to find out more and get locked up in Gaol! 

Free Stuff

I’ve been spending a lot of time job hunting and budgeting so I was delighted to find a lot to do for free in Melbourne. 

  • Hop on the city circle tram and find out more about the history of the city
  • Free trams in the CBD to get around
  • Wander the laneways looking at street art
  • Visit Federation Square and see what’s on there (it’s normally free)
  • Go to the State Library – it has some great free exhibitions on the top floor 
  • Join a free walking tour, departs from outside the library and is great for helping you get your bearings and learn more about the city 
  • Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens
  • Watch the street musicians on Bourke Street Mall or Southbank – they have to audition to play here so they are really good! 
  • Visit the National Gallery of Victoria 

Bars 


Melbourne is renowned for its hidden and rooftop bars, each with its own quirky character. Here’s some of my favourites so far:-

  • The Croft Institute (medical themed)
  • Berlin Bar (half is east Berlin and half is West Berlin) 
  • Sister Bella (has games to play on the tables, like uno and jenga) 
  • Madam Bussels (garden party themed rooftop)
  • Naked for Satan (amazing rooftop views) 
  • Ponyfish Island (under a bridge so great river views)


Day Trips 

 I’ve yet to do them all but Melbourne is a great place to explore Victoria. Here are some of the places that have been recommend to me or I’ve been to already:-

  • Philip Island – absolutely amazing to see the little penguins waddle up the beach at dusk. Shame you can’t take photos but still one my best Australian experiences 
  • Great Ocean Road – one of the most famous road trips in Oz 
  • Sorento and Mornington Peninsular – amazing beaches and costal views 
  • Grampians – for hiking 
  • Wilsons Prom – for snorkelling 


I’m sure this list is going to grow so I’ll keep you posted!